Dan Haren felt good, finished bad

Dan Haren probably made one bad pitch, but without offensive support it derailed him Friday. Kelvin Kuo/US Presswire

ANAHEIM -- It would be tempting after a second straight shaky outing to start wondering whether something was amiss with Angels starter Dan Haren.

After giving up four home runs in a win over Colorado last week, Haren gave up a three-run blast to Arizona Diamondbacks second baseman Aaron Hill and four doubles in a 5-0 loss to his former team Friday night at Angel Stadium.

Is there something physically wrong? Was he tight against the team that traded him here two and a half years ago? Was he tentative?

But in this case, on this night the answer is a whole lot more simple than that.

Haren said he felt great, he pitched great for most of the night and, if anything, facing his former team gave him an edge. He just made a couple of costly mistakes and found himself on the losing end of things after the Angels' offense sputtered for the fourth straight game.

"I actually felt great. I hadn't felt that good in a while. It really was just that one mistake to Hill," said Haren, after scattering eight hits and striking out five.

"I felt I made an adjustment and came out aggressive after giving up a run [in the first inning]. I was cruising along and just made that one bad pitch and the game was over there."

That pitch to Hill, who blasted his seventh home run of the season, was a 1-0 cutter that didn't do much cutting. Haren was pitching to Hill after the Angels decided to intentionally walk Diamondbacks catcher Miguel Montero with a runner on third, after Haren fell behind in the count, 2-0.

"Montero had just had two really good at-bats," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "We definitely trust Dan to get a feel for it. And he wanted to try to expand the zone. But once it became 2-0, we thought it was better to start over fresh with Hill and unfortunately he got a hold of a 1-0 cutter and hit it out of the park."

Scioscia agreed that Haren (4-7), who struggled because of a lower back issue earlier this year, looked sharp Friday.

"I thought Dan was throwing the ball well. His stuff was good," Scioscia said. "Give Arizona some credit. I think he pitched better than what it's going to show, five runs.

"We just had Dan pitching with his back against the wall too much in this game and they finally got through in the sixth inning. "

The bigger issue for the Angels is the way their offense has sputtered over the last four games. Friday was the first time the Angels have been shutout since May 14. They've now scored just seven runs in their past four games.

The top five hitters in the Angels lineup -- Mike Trout, Torii Hunter, Albert Pujols, Kendrys Morales and Mark Trumbo -- went a combined 0-for-19 with eight strikeouts on Friday.

Diamondbacks starter Trevor Cahill was masterful, striking out eight batters over seven innings and yielding just three hits.

"I guess thinking about it, the starters we've faced [the last four games] have been doing a great job and seems like everybody that runs out of the bullpen is throwing mid-90s with a nasty breaking ball," said Trumbo, who was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts on Friday.

"It just seems to go in waves. Sometimes you'll face a bunch of guys putting up a bunch of zeroes. Sometimes you're on the other end of it. I think we're kind of in one of those periods."

Cahill (5-5) had won both of his previous starts against the Angels as a member of the Oakland A's.

"His stuff was a little sharper than I've seen it in the past," Trumbo said. "He had a tremendous sinker, good breaking ball. It was tough to make good decisions at times on whether it's a strike or a ball. Sometimes you give up on it and it stays in the zone and you're walking back to the dugout."